Slicing into the Superstition Mountains east of Phoenix, the Peralta Trail might be best known for the legendary Lost Dutchman Mine said to lie hidden in the area. The real treasure, though, is the route's passage through classic desert landscapes to a view of sheer Weaver's Needle.
King Canyon Trail
In a region with a wealth of wondrous desert trails, this one stands out for its grand mix of terrain. The route, in Saguaro National Park West, overlooks a watercourse, passes near ancient rock carvings and historic stone buildings, switchbacks up saguaro-studded ridges and tops out on 4,687-foot Wasson Peak.
Hike this route - and perhaps add a side trek up steep Blackett's Ridge - for a grand overview of Sabino Canyon northeast of Tucson. You'll be high above the tourist crowds riding the canyon tram as you traverse classic desert terrain.
It's surrounded by the buzz of metro Phoenix and often swarming with hikers - but the Summit Trail on Camelback Mountain still serves up an A-list desert hike. Steep sandstone cliffs, cacti ad infinitum and panoramic summit views drown out the city.
A trek to the top of this eye-catching blade of stone northwest of Tucson includes some stretches so steep that hikers get an assist from cables fixed to the rock. Vertical thrills are enhanced in spring by brilliant blooms along the trail.
- Selected by Doug Kreutz